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Charlie Crist rubs elbows at St. Pete Dems meeting

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

In what was likely an early ploy to garner support for a likely congressional bid, former Gov. Charlie Crist made an appearance at the St. Pete Democrats’ monthly meeting Wednesday night. The group was hosting St. Pete City Council candidates for a forum in advance of the August 25 District 7 primary.

Crist didn’t have much to say at the meeting, but mingled with Democrats in the room. When asked at the end of the meeting if he had any announcements, Crist responded, “no.”

City Council member Karl Nurse greeted him as congressman, jokingly. That’s because Crist is widely expected to run for the Congressional District 13 seat currently held by Republican David Jolly.

A likely Crist candidacy emerged when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that district lines would have to be redrawn under the state’s fair districting amendment. The expected changes to the district will likely shift the district from a slight Republican advantage to a Democratic-controlled constituency.

Following the news Crist tweeted that if the district lines include his home, he will run. Crist owns a condo in downtown St. Pete that, as of right now, falls in Kathy Castor’s safe district. The circumstances have changed slightly because Crist and his wife just closed on a home last week on St. Pete Beach. However, that area will still fall within the new district.

Asked about his intentions Crist said “I’m very interested, obviously,” but wouldn’t add much more. He dismissed any concerns about facing Eric Lynn in a Democratic Primary and said he hasn’t given too much thought to how a campaign would play out if former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker were to also run.

Baker has strong name recognition and bipartisan support in St. Pete.

Crist sat next to Susan McGrath, chair of the Pinellas County Democrats and president of the Pinellas Stonewall Democrats. The two were seen occasionally whispering.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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